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In April 1937 the Pennsylvania Power Company (Penn Power), which acquired and consolidated all the various electric companies in the Lawrence County area during the 1920’s, acquired a 44-acre site along the Beaver River in West Pittsburg with plans to erect a large coal-driven power plant. The new plant was put in operation on Thursday, May 4, 1939, but took many months to get up to full power. A dedication ceremony, public open house, and testimonial dinner (featuring famous lawyer Wendell Willkie) were held on Thursday, June 29, 1939. The plant, upgraded many times over the years, was the primary supplier of electric power to Lawrence County and the surrounding region for many years. (c1940) Full Size
Work on a major $18 million addition commenced in April 1956. The project featured the erection of a 90,000-kilowatt turbo-generator, which increased the plant’s total output to 263,000 kilowatts. The new generator, which used the water from the Beaver River for cooling purposes, was put in operation in late August 1958. This coal sucking beast was capable – at full capacity – of eating 690 tons of coal per hour. (Apr 1957) Full Size
Penn Power advertisement. (Jan 1969) Full Size
The Penn Power facility has always been a familiar site at West Pittsburg. (1975) Full Size
In 1999 the power plant (seen in background), now more of a backup or auxiliary power station, was sold by Penn Power. Subsequent mergers saw several new owners take over in the coming decade. In March 2012 it was announced that then-owner GenOn Energy, facing costly upgrades due to new pollution regulations, would be closing eight of its older coal-burning electric plants – including the “New Castle Generating Station” located in West Pittsburg. After another merger the new owner of the plant, NRG Energy, announced in June 2013 that they would keep the West Pittsburg plant open and refit it to run off of natural gas. This endeavor is expected to be completed by the summer of 2016. (Aug 2013) Full Size